Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Biggest Loser Season 14, Episode 11: Getting to the Final Four

There is no way to write this post without spoilers. Use caution!

Not surprisingly, a big part of this episode is a retrospective -- a look back at the previous weeks to show us how far the contestants -- and the kids -- have come.

What I often wonder about these retrospectives is why they show us the same exact clips each time -- clips we have seen multiple times before -- instead of using some of the great footage that probably ended up on the cutting-room floor. We got to cringe all over again at Lindsay with the cheerleaders, feel bad for Sunny as she looks sadly at herself in a long red dress (which she looked gorgeous in, IMHO), and see the same clips of Biingo running around on the baseball field. The same thing for the contestants -- the same image of Danni getting the towel bucket dumped on her head, the same images of Joe as football star, the same image of Jeff in his parents basement balancing a bowl of popcorn on his stomach, the same Gina with her weird armadillo braid screaming at Bob, and, of course, dozens of images of Jackson throwing up. Thanks, TBL.  (At least we finally get a little explanation of why he is sick all the time -- acidosis -- probably because he had such an incredible amount of fat to lose). I think that shows like this use a very simplistic method of storytelling, that certain clips become touchstones for building characters and a narrative, but really, there should be a smart-person version of this show.  I would love to see a more complex version.

Since we are in Simplistic Mode, though, I think we are supposed to suspect shenanigans when Gina hurts her foot -- a mysterious injury that occurs just at the point where she realizes that she will probably not make the top two spots, and that if she is in three or four, she won't make the finale. I thought she just wanted to spare herself the embarrassment of a vote. My husband, though, pointed out that the prize for second place is $0, and the prize for the at-home winner is $100,000. Since she has been the Biggest Loser on the show, she probably has a great shot at the at-home prize.  Either way, the injury seemed to be an excuse for her not to do well in the weigh-in.

I loved the segments of the kids that showed how their health risks had changed.  Biingo had lost an amazing 25% of his bodyweight, and it really showed.  Lindsay is no longer prediabetic, which is obviously a huge relief.  Sunni's cholesterol changes seemed a little anticlimactic -- what kind of kid is thinking about cholesterol at 17 -- but it does seem striking that she would have cholesterol issues, considering that Sunni has always been a vegetarian. It gives a sense that it isn't just about saturated fat. This is the kind of thing we used to see much more of on The Biggest Loser.

I thought we were in for a similar treat with the adults when we saw Dr. H., but we only got to see that Danni had gained an incredible 19 pounds of lean body mass while losing 84 pounds -- an incredible loss of 103 pounds of fat. It really speaks to Jillian's skills as a trainer, that the one person who got one-on-one work with her had the biggest muscle gains of any contestant -- male or female -- in the history of the show. I would have liked to see a snippet of each of the other contestants with Dr. H., but no such luck. I looked on the website for bonus footage but didn't see anything. It's a shame, because I always found these segments informative and motivating.

This week's challenge is a fun variation on the usual put-the-weight-back-on theme. I think because this group of contestants is so fit, they are sent up into the mountains to what looks like a ski resort to load up sleds with their weight week-by-week, moving backward through their weigh-ins.  I loved that Jeff gave a shout-out to Midwestern toughness. His hometown is just up I-75 from mine.  Like all other similar challenges, this one gave the contestants a reminder of how hard it was to drag all that extra weight around.

During this week's Last Chance Workout, some of the contestants seem to revert to past bad patterns. As I said earlier, Gina gets (fakes?) an injury.  Jackson starts getting sick again.  Danni starts to give up and get weepy.  When Jillian asks her what's up, she admits that she's feeling resentful that other people who haven't worked as hard as her might be able to beat her in the weigh-in.  Jillian reminds her that that no matter what, no one can take her success away.  Though the money and the Biggest Loser title might be nice, Jillian reminds her that she has gotten her life back.  Then Danni goes back into the gym and does incredible Feats of Strength, lifting Jillian into the air on her two palms.  If Jillian had a gym, I imagine all the weights being calibratred in Jillian increments, as in, "I bench-pressed 2 1/2 Jillians today!" She has all this equipment but she still loves to show off how strong the contestants are by having them throw her around.

The weigh-ins, of course, are set up for maximum suspense. The weight losses seem low -- Joe and Jackson both put up a 5-pound loss, incredible for real life but not for the last weigh-in on this ultimate weight loss show.  Gina, who has consistently lost huge numbers, gets a 2, clinching her last-place status.  Amazingly, Jeff and Danni each pull an 11.  Do you see a trend here:

Danni, trained by Jillian, first place
Jeff, big dude trained by Bob, second place
Jackson and Joe, trained by Dolvett, fighting for third place
Gina, woman trained by Bob, no longer gets to work out with Bob so she doesn't mind going home

Gina looks good in her at-home segment and even gets in a Subway commercial with her not-so-enthusiastic kids. I really noticed in this episode that the makeover darkened her overbleached hair and eyebrows and took away her washed-out look. This, along with the weight loss, makes her look a lot better.

So, any predictions for the finale? Of course I'm rooting for Danni, but even if she doesn't win the big prize and title, I see her getting some work from the Biggest Loser franchise since she's their best possible advertisement. I think Jeff has an advantage since he has so much left to lose.

By the way, I might just have to buy the April Seventeen magazine because Sunny will be in it.  Do you think anyone will ask me to prom?


  1. On my way home today, will read your post after I get thru my DVR back log.

    1. Always enjoy hearing what you have to say! You always remember something I forgot. One thing I missed -- check out Biingo's mom's weight loss. I think she said she lost 5 sizes.

  2. I'm also rooting for Danni. I really liked this season because there wasn't all the fighting and gamesmanship.

    P. S. Came over from the Fitbloggin group on Facebook. Looking forward to meeting you.

    1. I think it was a great season too. Thanks for visiting, see you in Portland!

  3. Jen you are on FIRE in this recap. Love it, love it!

    "If Jillian had a gym, I imagine all the weights being calibratred in Jillian increments, as in, "I bench-pressed 2 1/2 Jillians today!" She has all this equipment but she still loves to show off how strong the contestants are by having them throw her around."

    Brilliant! :)

    I am with your hubby, I suspect Gina shenanigans! Hehehe.

    GO DANI!

    Also, how cool that Hannah RT'd you! Woohoo!

    1. I know, I'm a little starstruck!

  4. So I read your recap BEFORE I watched my recording, first time I've ever done that. I'm so happy Danni is coming back and Gina's cool-as-a-cucumber reaction to getting booted certainly fits with your husband's theory. I almost didn't watch, but it was too cold to walk and with your insight I was able to skip over the boring recaps and STILL got an hour in on the elliptical. So, thanks! Glad you're feeling better.

  5. What you have been writing about TBL (editing/producers) dumb-ing it down for the audience is exactly what I see in the medical world. Exactly.

    Medical world (mostly) does not expect people to be able to get the weight off and keep it off. They do not expect people to be able to tone and improve cardio health. They do not teach people to get rid of their (type 2) diabetes, only try to teach them to manage it. They dumb it down (in my opinion).

    I have said before - when I question medical people (including nutrition and physical therapy departments) with this viewpoint, their answer is that the patients are not going to do what they need to do, so why bother.

    I agree that a lot more could have been done (this whole season) with Dr H's information on all the contestants.

    Danni definitely still has a shot because it will be total percentage lost. She has been in the practice of losing. That counts for a lot. And she does still have a fair amount to lose. I hope that she gets it all off, especially because she is so young, and to give her feet/knees/joints a chance since she looks like she might continue to be athletic.

    Good post.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07